A progressing approach on conflict-affected settings and situations of occupation in the revised draft of the legally binding instrument, more needed
On 16 July 2019, the revised draft of the legally binding instrument to regulate, in international human rights law, the activities of transnational corporations and other business enterprises (hereinafter, legally binding instrument) was released.
The legally binding instrument, in its current draft, attempts to provide better established rights for affected individuals and communities, including human rights defenders and protected persons and populations, among other groups that are at high risk in the context of corporate activities. It is important that the legally binding instrument continues to be developed in a way that more closely resembles the language of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs) and rights guaranteed under international law.
Paragraph 3(b) of article 5 on carrying out meaningful consultations with groups whose human rights can be affected by business activities or relationships is of high importance. The addition of protected populations under occupation or conflict areas as part of the categories of stakeholders requiring special attention is welcome, especially considering the heightened risks of violations in the context of business activities. However, it remains insufficient and in practice may be unrealistic, given the situation of armed conflict, hostilities, and/or a foreign occupation and authority.
In the same article, paragraph 2, human rights due diligence should be presented more explicitly in line with the UNGPs and relevant obligations and responsibilities set forth under international law. It remains unclear what ‘appropriate actions’ are needed, notably by business enterprises, in order to prevent human rights violations and abuses in the context of their activities and contractual relationships.